INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
An Indiana lawmaker is facing a backlash after a 2015 Facebook discussion
came to light in which he said “racism is not real” and lamented the plight
of the white male.
Andy Zay of Huntington said he should have been “more careful with my words”
and that he does believe racism is real.
Tyler Cooley, a
Democrat, provided The Journal Gazette and WPTA-TV the private direct
message conversation he had with Zay. Cooley said he was aghast by the
remarks and viewed it as the “epitome of privilege.”
Zay made the
comments before being selected by Republican precinct committee members in
2016 to complete the final two years of Jim Banks’ term in the state Senate
after Banks was elected to Congress.
In the private
Facebook conversation three years ago, Zay said “the biggest minority class
in America is the white male.”
“These so called
minorities are given way more opportunity to succeed and be part of
successful programs than the average white male,” he added. The conversation
also included discussion about tax abatements, minimum wage and
then-President Barack Obama.
In a statement
Monday, Zay said his remarks were “part of a much broader discussion on the
American dream. He said he believed every Indiana resident “and every person
should be treated equally regardless of race.”
Zay represents all
of northeastern Indiana’s Wabash County and parts of Grant, Huntington and
Whitley counties. He’s running for re-election this fall.
candidate for the Senate seat, Gary Snyder, said he’s “disturbed” by the
views Zay expressed in the conversation.
“Our state senators
are there to serve all of the people of their district,” Snyder said. “While
Zay is free to hold the belief that ‘racism is not real,’ he is denying the
very real experiences of voters he is representing.”